Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lifts go up, 6 million skulls and avoiding the scam bastards!

Our next day in Paris started a little earlier as we had a full day planned – first on the agenda was to steal as much food as possible for lunch – while we helped ourselves to breakfast in the hotel. This went well and we managed to pilfer enough for a good lunch later in the day (It’s not really stealing when the hotel lets you take stuff – but it does make it more exciting)

On the Seine

The rest of the plan was to get a boat trip down the Seine – stopping off to see all the sights. We met a nice English couple on the boat who took a nice photo of the two of us  - once Alan had got out of the way – ‘Get out of the way Alan!!’ and then we said goodbye to them as we alighted for a wander up the Champs Elysee.  It was a warm and sunny spring morning and we enjoyed wandering up the gradual hill of the Champs Elysee, before finally reaching the top where the Arc De Triomphe sits. It is actually much bigger than I imagined and after finding the secret passage below the crazy traffic we spent a while admiring the scaffolding that was atop the huge structure – it seems that wherever we go something is always covered in scaffolding - normally the exact thing we went to see. 

Gardeners arse on the Champs Elysee - Nice flowers

A Canadian and an Archway
A short walk from the Arc and we hit the Seine again – just by the bridge under which Princess Diana had her fatal car crash. There wasn’t much to see there except a load of Graffiti from people claiming their undying love for her, so we moved on towards the big pointy thing. (The Eyeful tower) and were stopped by a kind gentleman who asked if we had dropped the gold ring he had just found on the pavement. He showed it to Buffy and then kindly asked if we wanted to keep it? Of course we were surprised than taken aback as he asked for money for a drink - we walked away before watching him through my super zoom on my camera as he tried to pull the same scam on other unsuspecting tourists.
The infamous Tunnel entrance

Me and a pointy thing
So we finally reached the big pointy thing (The Evil tower) and guess what? Yeah, they are doing some building here too, but not as much as the Arc.The big pointy thing (The Awful tower) was and always will be my favourite thing about Paris – so I was really happy to sit below it and eat our ill gotten gains from breakfast as we sat in the sunshine and looked up at the pointy thing (The falafel tower) above. A lovely hour or so just mellowing out and watching the world go by – including the 60 odd year old cross between a YMCA dancer and a biker with his assless chaps and denim shorts underneath. I don’t think he even knew what day it was never mind what he was wearing – ah well each to his own eh!

Dodgy gold ring scam artist

Lunch view

Its falling over

Back to the boat bus and we watched dogs play in the river and a woman get a poor portrait drawn as we waited to board the boat. Then another lazy hour floating down the Seine on a beautiful day admiring the architecture of this beautiful city – interspersed with the homeless people living under the bridges and the students and young people sunning themselves by the side of the river.  
Looks nothing like her!


Our final stop of the afternoon was at the huge cemetery just North East of city centre. This is where famous people such as Chopin, Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison are buried. Its also the most gaudy collection of gravestones and tombs that you have ever seen. Some of them are simply outrageous with huge angels looking down on the oppulent building that was intended to give an understanding of just how 'self important; some of these people thought that they were. In the real world they are a tack y reminder of vanity, and way over the top. I was pleasently surprised to see Jim Morrisons grave though - simple and with a few flowers, it was almost hidden behind other graves. I liked it a lot more than most.

A monument to war dead

Jim Morrisons grave
In the evening we went really French – a lovely meal in a quaint little French Bistro – lots of meat and another bottle of wine left us full, bloated and happy – so we went around the corner and into a wonderful little Jazz bar with a steep concrete staircase leading down to a cavern below that looked like the inside to an old church with wooden benches and a crazy Jazz singer leading his congregation on the dance floor with some cool tunes and the a lot of jokes in French. We stayed here a few hours dancing with each other and a few of the other local disciples. It really turned out to be a brilliant night – it’s not often I enjoy dancing but this was so mellow and different that I loved it – as did Buffy’s other partners!!

A good night’s rest followed and then it was up out of bed – eat breakfast, steal lunch and out again to explore the city. First stop today was the Catacombs, which much like last night’s Jazz venue, are caves under the city streets – but these are different as they are filled with the bones of around six million (6,000,000) dead people collected from the old cemeteries in Paris which were full to bursting and taking up a lot of room the late 1800’s. You actually walk about 2km underground past the quite neat piles of skulls and bones. It’s an eerie place and a great way to spend an hour or so on a cold, wet, rainy morning.  

Dem bones!

We were cutting our timings pretty fine today as we had booked our tickets for the pointy thing (The Ethel tower) at 1.30pm and as we left the catacombs it was just 1oclock. So a quick jaunt to the metro and a fast walk got us to the base of the tower right on time for our lift upwards. This was funnier than expected though as when the lift started its ascension a lady next to us screeched with surprise and exclaimed that she was unsure at which direction it would go!! (Yes love, lifts usually go sideways and the first part of a tour of the tower is the basement!!)

Up the pointy thing

Eating the pointy thing
A lovely afternoon was spent looking around at the top of the pointy thing (The Big Blackpool tower) – we were really lucky with the weather and the clear blue sky as rain had been predicted – but it was a lovely warm sunny afternoon. It was also fun to see people paying large amounts of money for cheap champagne and one bloke eating an Eiffel tower lollipop!! Not full size though - as the Eiffel tower is much bigger than he could fit in his mouth.

The train home was fun as my ‘day pass’ ticket didn’t work, so I ended up jumping the barrier. It was only when we sat on the train that Buffy pointed out that the day pass ticket for today was in actual fact the out of date ticket from yesterday that I should have thrown away. My day pass ticket was in my other pocket. 

We were back at the pointy thing (The Eiffel Tower) a couple of hours later to take in the sights in the evening dusk as well as help hopeless tourists take photos of themselves in front of it. It was also funny to watch the scam artists who try to goad tourists into betting which cup the ball is under for 50 euro a time. It is so obvious that the people pretending to be tourists and winning are their brothers, sisters and general family. They all look like they are from Algeria or Eastern Europe and look so happy when winning. We didn’t play and were delighted to see no other real tourists taking part either.

A long night out was ended with a couple of beers and some good food in a lovely little restaurant next to the Pompidou centre with a happy and amusing Portuguese waiter. It’s been a long three days so far and we have done nearly everything we wanted to – in fact the only two things left on our agenda for tomorrow is the Louvre Museum followed by a couple of nice cold beers.

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